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Vol 5 No. 33 - May 4, 2005

Breckenridge — the Anna Maria of the Rockies

By Louise Bolger

I just returned from the Anna Maria of the Rockies – Breckenridge, Colorado. At first blush, Breckenridge and Anna Maria may not appear to have much in common, but there’s all kinds of similarities, not the least of which is their respective real estate markets.

The first thing I do when landing in a new town is head straight for the nearest real estate office and gather books and advertising for local real estate. Arriving in Breckenridge slowed my real estate sprint a little (a better than 9,000 foot altitude level forces you to walk a little slower), but I still managed to stock up for the afternoon read.

For starters Breckenridge real estate is just about as out of control as Manatee County (based on a recent Bradenton Herald report, Manatee and Sarasota County real estate has appreciated 36 percent during the past year). Residential property in Breckenridge, for a one-bedroom condo starts around $250,000 and escalates up into the multi-millions for single-family homes. Check out this piece from a local Breckenridge newspaper:

"Second home ownership is booming as our communities move from "ski towns" to "resort communities." In the past, skiers came to ski and when the end of the season arrived, our communities became close to ghost towns. Now our second homeowners are spending more time, enjoying four seasons of activities, and many are anticipating spending their retirement here as full time residents. When one looks at all of the residential real estate owned in the county, 67 percent of those properties are owned by second homeowners. It is projected that the county will be built out in the next 10-12 years."

All you need to do is change "ski" to "beach" and this article could have been written about Anna Maria. It’s also not uncommon for the same type of people to gravitate to the same area of the country. Walking down Main Street in Breckenridge one afternoon, my cousin ran into a colleague of his from Clearwater. How many times has that happened to you on the Island?

It’s true that real estate is booming all over the country, but as unique as the Western states are, it’s the Southern part of the country that is really booming. A report I heard on television last week stated that in twenty years, Florida will be the third most populated state in the country after California and Texas. If you believe this, then maintaining a 36 percent appreciation rate should certainly be sustainable. Add the finite amount of available waterfront real estate available, and appreciation rates start getting into thin air territory that will really leave you breathless.

The next time you’re in the land of switchbacks, chinking and four feet of snow in April, take a good look around, you may be surprised at how similar we really are. And, if want to know what chinking is this would be a good time to remember why the Internet was invented – although we’re still not sure by whom.


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